Germans in the Kalmar region talk about history, identity and belonging

- The people I have interviewed in the thesis have tried to combine the best of life in Germany with the new existence in Sweden, says ethnologist Barbro Johnsson. This has resulted in them having a mixed identity, becoming "travellers" between different affiliations. The thesis is based on in-depth interviews that Barbro Johnsson has carried out over many years. The people interviewed represent different generations and the stories show completely different experiences, but there are also similarities. Common to the people interviewed is their families' aspiration to create a safe life for them during their childhood and upbringing in Germany. The families dreamed of a good life and it was that dream that contributed to these women and men eventually coming to Sweden and the Kalmar region. The older interviewees have experiences from the National Socialist period in Germany's history; traumatic memories of the Second World War when they were bombed by the Allies or encountered soldiers from the Soviet-Russian army who entered German territory. - One of the informants was, for example, a witness to the so-called death marches, when the concentration camps were to be evacuated and the prisoners were marched on foot towards the interior of Germany, says Barbro Johnsson. The younger ones, born between the 1950s and 1960s, have different experiences of Germany. Some of them saw the results of the war in the form of bombed houses and cities, but the most characteristic thing in their stories is the lack of relatives because many of them died during the war. They have grown up with their parents. The meeting with Sweden is also described quite differently depending on when they arrived, how old they were, and what experiences and memories they brought with them from Germany. The more time that has passed since the war, the better the treatment seems to have become. The older ones tell of being called SS pigs or Hitler whores, while the younger ones have completely different and more positive experiences from their encounters with Sweden and the Swedes. The younger, highly educated women think that life got better in Sweden, because they have been able to combine professional and family life more easily. On October 13, Barbro Johnsson, Department of Cultural and Media Sciences, Umeå University, defends her doctoral thesis Germans in the Kalmar region: an ethnological study of stories about history, identity and belonging. Faculty opponent is Professor Dieter Müller, Department of Cultural Geography, Umeå University. Barbro Johnsson works as 1st antiquarian at the Kalmar county museum. For further information or an interview, please contact her on tel. 0480-45 13 11 or e-mail